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On The Enlightenment: Response to a letter

How irritating it is to encounter such a blatant reluctance to come to terms with contemporary, post-leftist anarchy!

The rationalist discourse of Enlightenment political philosophy can only hope to address the rational faculties.

This statement — the only point at which I refer to eighteenth century rationalism in my essay — apparently constitutes a “diatribe against the Enlightenment”. This strikes me as a bizarre notion. But even if I did want to critique the Enlightenment I can’t do so because it seems that all such critiques are inevitably “reactionary, fascist and elitist”. Critique — let alone repudiation — of the Enlightenment apparently aligns one with Hitler! Why is it not possible to mount a critique of rationalism from an anarchist perspective? Why are critiques of the Enlightenment necessarily reactionary? Why is the Enlightenment such a sacred cow?

Enlightenment thinkers used the concept of ‘reason’ to undermine the absolutist state and to re-affirm the crucial importance of human agency...

But in the name of what cause? Not an anarchist project, but — wittingly or not — bourgeois liberalism (Rousseau, for example: an advocate of limited parliamentary democracy). It might be well to remember the words of one of Rousseau’s contemporaries, and someone whose perspective informs and closely resembles anarchism. Blake wrote:

Mock on, mock on, Voltaire, Rousseau!

Mock on, mock on — Tis all in vain!

You throw the sand against the wind,

And the wind blows it back again.